Sunday was Mother's Day and I spent the day with my daughter. I'm fortunate that we have so much fun together, and I always learn a lot from being around her.
For instance, we saw a young man nearly covered in tattoos and I said something like, "What do you think that's about?" Without missing a beat, she said, "Well Mom, maybe his community of people do that, and it's important not to judge." Lesson learned!
Exploring Youth Territory
We headed downtown and decided to hit Urban Outfitters. If you've never been, it's worth a stroll through. Its offerings walk the line between hipster clothes and throwbacks to the 60s, 70s and 80s. At the very least it's a great place to browse books, many of them irreverent, and see what the kids are wearing or interested in.
While my daughter was in the dressing room, two young women emerged to check the mirror and rate their looks. One of them wore an 80s-style, midriff-baring top and high-waisted shorts that were so short they left little to the imagination.
Navigating Popular Culture's Influence
She was stunningly beautiful and I couldn't help but think that if she covered up a bit, it would actually increase her attractiveness. I know that at 16, you are trying to find your own style and there is a world of media -- social and otherwise -- telling you to be sexy and grow up fast. I also know that as parents we have the ability (often more than we think) to guide kids with our own values about what is appropriate and what is allowed. My next thought was, "Wait till she gets home and her mom makes her return it all."
You can imagine my surprise when I realized one of the women giving her the thumbs up was her mom. Let's be clear: there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best and feel your best. My whole business is built on that idea. But your best as defined by whom? The media? Classmates? Movies? Music videos? Popular culture may beat us over the head with it, but there is something simply not right -- and certainly not The Real You -- about being over-sexualized.
Finding Our True Selves
The hard truth is it's not easy to find The Real You in today's world. We all have things in our closet that no longer fit our personal style. We can all think of times when we were trying to hold onto a look we'd outgrown, or grow into a look we weren't quite ready for. And if it's difficult for us as adults to express ourselves authentically, imagine how complex it is for teens.
We're In This Together
The next time you are out shopping with a teen, a friend or your mom, remember that your job is to be honest, supportive and the best you can be to help the women in your life become the well-dressed people they deserve to be.